Bronx Congressman Jose E. Serrano, in video above, speaks on the House floor last week in favor of the DREAM Act.
A bill that would provide a long-term path to citizenship for young immigrant residents passed in the House of Representatives on Dec. 8, but has since stalled in the Senate, as its supporters try to drum up Republican support for the bill in the hopes of passing it before the year’s end.
The controversial DREAM Act would provide a six-year route to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country before the age of 16 who have been here for over five years, requiring that they get a college degree or serve at least two years in the military.
Supporters estimate that some 65,000 undocumented students graduate high school each year, but are hindered from attending college or pursuing other career routes because of their citizenship status.
“They have grown up here and it is past time that we recognized that they merit an opportunity to become American citizens,” said Bronx Congressman Jose E. Serrano, who voted in favor of the act.
“As a nation of immigrants, it will be a shame if we cannot even agree that these people deserve a chance to become citizens of what is for many the only country they have known,” he said in a statement.
Immigration reform advocates and liberal lawmakers have been pushing for passage of the bill for a decade, though it has been met with fierce resistance from most Republican representatives and other groups who view it as an amnesty bill for illegal immigrants.